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Cannes 2016: Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold- and the BFG- headed to film festival

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The initial lineup for the 69 th French film festival has been announced, with two British directors in rivalry, alongside new cinemas from Nicolas Winding Refn, Jeff Nichols and Pedro Almodovar

Three female directors have cinemas playing in rivalry at Cannes this year a relatively high number for the celebration, which has a history of being criticised for male bias.

American Honey the first movie stimulated in America by Red Road and Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold is among the 20 cinemas screening in competitor. It stars Shia LaBeouf as a hard-partying magazine salesman meandering through the midwest.

The other women competing for festivals top award, the Palme dOr, will be French performer and director Nicole Garcia, with second world war drama Mal de Parres, and German film-maker Maren Ade, whose cinema Toni Erdmann is about a parent who ambushes his daughter with jokes, believing she has lost her sense of humour.

The festival has often been criticised for not celebrating more women or non-white film-makers in its most high profile strand. Four women featured in 2011, but none was invited to the main competition the following year, and merely a maximum of two have been included in the intervening years.

Cannes head Thierry Frmaux faced a backlash last year after reports emerged that women were barred from the red carpet by festival security faculty for not wearing high heels. Frmaux denied that wearing such footwear comes within the framework of festival regulations.

Of the competitors male contingent, Ken Loach is perhaps the most surprising inclusion. The 79 -year-old director was thought to have retired after his last cinema, Jimmys Hall. But Loach, a festival perennial who won the Palme dOr in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, will return with another drama: I, Daniel Blake. It tells the story of a carpenter who falls ill and fights to navigate the red tape of welfare subsistence.

Has Has a place ring-fenced … Ken Loachs I, Daniel Blake

Olivier Assayas will also return to the Croisette with Personal Shopper, which reunites him with Kristen Stewart whose role in 2014 s Clouds of Sils Maria won her a Csar award. Stewart also stars alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Steve Carell in the festivals opening movie, Woody Allens Cafe Society, which is screening out of competition.

Other key competition titles include the fifth cinema from Midnight Special director Jeff Nichols: Loving, which stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as a real-life couple battling racial prejudice in mid-5 0s America. The cinema is tip-off for an awards pushing, with a November release date in the US.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, whose movies Drive and Only God Forgives induced major splashes in 2011 and 2013, is back with The Neon Demon, a tale of vampiric supermodels in Los Angeles starring Elle Fanning and Christina Hendricks.

Ready Ready to shine … Elle Fanning in Nicolas Winding Refns horror movie Neon Demon

Sean Penns fifth film as director, The Last Face, is also selected. A drama set among aid workers in Africa, it stars Javier Bardem and Penns former partner, Charlize Theron.

Other returning veterans include Pedro Almodvar, who has cancelled all press for new movie Julieta since his name was linked to the Panama Papers, the Dardenne brothers, Xavier Dolan, Cristian Mungiu, Brillante Mendoza and Bruno Dumont.

Dolans movie, Its Merely the End of the World, marks the second time in rivalry for the 27 -year-old French Canadian who has also served on the jury. His last cinema, Mommy, won the Jury prize in 2014.

A more left-field inclusion is Paul( Basic Instinct) Verhoevens new movie, Elle, which stars Isabelle Huppert as the CEO of a video games company who is raped in her home and attempts to track down her attacker.

Jim Jarmusch has one film in competitor Paterson, which stars Adam Driver as a bus driver and another playing at a midnight screening: his Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger.

Ryan Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in The Nice Guys

A small protest against a modification to national labour laws delayed the press conference, in which Frmaux and chairman Pierre Lescure outlined the 49 cinemas that were selected from 1,869 submissions. The line-up includes cinemas from 28 countries.

Steven Spielbergs adaptation of Roald Dahls The BFG, starring Mark Rylance in the title role, will play out of competition, as will Money Monster, the latest directorial endeavour from Jodie Foster, starring George Clooney as a newscaster kidnapped by a young man( Jack OConnell) outraged by the role of the banks in the financial crisis. Julia Roberts plays Clooneys producer.

Also out of rivalry is Cafe Society, and The Nice Guys, a 1970 s-set crime caper with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

Not named in todays announcement was Terrence Malicks The Voyage of Time, an Imax documentary tackling the birth and death of the known world which had been tipped for inclusion.

This years Cannes will start on 11 May. George Miller, whose desert-set escapade Mad Max: Fury Road was one of last years major successes, chairs the jury.

Such articles was amended on Thursday 14 April 2016. We mistakenly said that Emir Kusturicas new movie would be showing at the festival. This has been corrected.

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